Books: New in Print
Education and Society
The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning, by Etta Kralovec and John Buell (Beacon Press, 25 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108-2892; 119 pp., $18 hardcover). Asks the question: Are the benefits of homework worth its costs? The authors examine the role of homework in American society and look at why educators, parents, and politicians believe, almost universally, that more homework equals higher academic standards and achievement. Drawing on case histories, research studies in the field, and their own experiences as teachers and parents, they offer a counterbalance to this assumption and discuss why past efforts to reform homework practices have not worked.
Endangered: Your Child in a Hostile World, by Johann Christoph Arnold (Plough Publishing, Route 381 N., Farmington, PA 15437; 200 pp., $10 paperback). Presents a vision for a more child-friendly world, where children can truly be children. The author, an internationally known children's advocate, challenges educators and policymakers to rediscover and defend the preciousness of childhood. But he places the primary responsibility for making childhood less of a "training ground for adulthood" than it is today in the home. Parents who have sacrificed their children's childhood for their own interests, the author maintains, must ask themselves what they are willing to give up to reverse this trend.
The Irreducible Needs of Children: What Every Child Must Have To Grow, Learn, and Flourish, by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton and Dr. Stanley I. Greenspan (Perseus Publishing, 11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142; 176 pp., $23 hardcover). Uncovers what the authors, one a renowned pediatrician and the other a leading child psychiatrist, consider to be the seven fundamental requirements of a healthy childhood, and evaluates how parents, teachers, policymakers, and politicians are faring in their attempts to meet these basic needs.
Mothering Inner-City Children: The Early School Years, by Katherine Brown Rosier (Rutgers University Press, 100 Joyce Kilmer Ave., Piscataway, NJ 08854-8099; 256 pp., $22 paperback). Sociologist Katherine Brown Rosier spent three years interviewing Indianapolis mothers as their children made the transition from a Head Start program to kindergarten and through 2nd grade, observing the families at home, in school, and in other social settings. In the book, the voices of the mothers, the children, and their teachers provide a multifaceted picture of how low-income African-American families cope with the day-to-day pressures and responsibilities of child rearing. Ms. Rosier also examines how larger socioeconomic factors influence these families' specific circumstances and histories.
Teenagers and Adolescence
Field Guide to the American Teenager, by Michael Riera and Joseph Di Prisco (Perseus Publishing, 11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142; 256 pp., $25 hardback). Offers parents (and educators) a "user's manual" to the teenager's mind. The authors, both former teachers, use their years of experience in talking to adolescents without their parents around to dramatize events that offer insight into young people's lives. Subjects tackled include divorce, drugs, and date rape, as well as integrity, motivation, and decisionmaking. In each of the experiences cited, the authors point out the developmental issues at play, and the deeper levels of significance and meaning for the adolescent.
Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence, by Laura Sessions Stepp (Riverhead Books, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014; 397 pp., $24.95 hardcover). Argues that early adolescence is a unique and pivotal time of change and is our "last best shot" at preparing children for a successful life. Documents the lives of 12 young people between the ages of 11 and 15 in three communities: Durham, N.C.; Los Angeles; and Ulysses, Kan. Each chapter chronicles the day-to-day experiences of one of these adolescents and summarizes the impact adults have had on his or her life, pointing out how they helped and hindered the child's maturation.
Further information on these books is available from the publisher or by calling (800) 253-6476.
Vol. 20, Issue 2, Page 42